La Porte welcomed a new Student Resource Officer (SRO) to the family this year.
Austin Epple after previous SRO Deputy Derrick Deck received a new job offer. Epple is a native of LaPorte.
Epple graduated in 2012 from LaPorte High School and left for Chicago where he began his college education at Robert Morris College. He transferred back to Indiana, attended Ball State University, and spent a little over three months during the summer of 2016 as an intern with the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department before ultimately graduating in 2018 from Laros–in Iowa.
“I always knew I wanted to come back and live in Indiana, and if I wanted to live in a place that’s cold eight months out of the year and surrounded by corn I might as well live back home,” Epple said.
After graduation, Epple made the move back home. After having been made to feel welcome, he applied for and was given the opportunity to take a position in his hometown as a La Porte County sheriff’s deputy. Also that year, he began coaching for the LaPorte Slicer Football team. He was able to coach for three seasons: 2018, 2019, and 2020. A change in his shift as an officer left him unable to continue into the 2021 season.
Being involved in LPHS as a coach led to his interest in becoming the next Student Resource Officer. As a Resource Officer, he strives for the school to be a safe place for the students and the staff. But his biggest goal overall is to protect the school. He also hopes to connect with the kids, maintain mutual trust, and uphold a similar relationship with the school body as others did before him.
“If you can help kids here then maybe they don’t make the same mistakes as adults when it really counts against you,” Epple said.
To Epple, the role of an SRO is to keep the kids safe being the shield between what goes on inside the school and what goes on outside the world while being a representative of the Sheriff’s office.
“Whenever you kids need a resource legal or otherwise I am in that position to help you and I want to help you,” Epple said.
For Officer Epple, it is very different coming back to the high school as an authority figure rather than a student. Not only is it different for him, but now being a figure for his old teachers who used to be that figure for him is a big change that takes some getting used to.
“To come back and be around a school that I cared for greatly when I was here and to help kids do positive things makes me happy every day,” Epple said.
He hopes to continue and grow with the school and have a positive impact on the school body as a whole.